BAGHDAD, Iraq – U.S. forces launched an airstrike targeting militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (search) after his group beheaded a South Korean who had pleaded "I don't want to die" in a heart-wrenching videotape.
Another audio recording purportedly made by al-Zarqawi and found online Wednesday threatened to kill Iraq's interim prime minister.
"As for you (Iyad) Allawi ... you didn't know that you have survived already traps we made for you, but we promise you that we will continue the game until the end," the online recording said.
"You are the symbol of evil and the infidel nation; you are the source of all traitors."
It was not immediately possible to authenticate the recording, but the voice sounded like al-Zarqawi's.
Al-Zarqawi's Monotheism and Jihad movement is believed to be behind Tuesday's slaying of Kim Sun-il (search), the third foreign hostage decapitated in the Middle East in little over a month.
The U.S. airstrike later Tuesday in Fallujah hit a parking lot, residents said. Three people were killed and nine wounded, said Dr. Loai Ali Zeidan at Fallujah Hospital.
Elsewhere, a roadside bomb exploded near Baghdad's Kindi Hospital on Wednesday, killing a policeman, a mother and her child, police said.
The woman and child were riding in the taxi, said Col. Khubur Saleh of the Iraqi police. The policeman was killed while handling the bomb, another police officer at the scene said.
Another man, his shirt off, was seen being led away in handcuffs.
In Ramadi, an insurgent stronghold 60 miles west of Baghdad, gunmen killed two policemen and wounded a third in a drive-by shooting, witnesses said.
Two American soldiers were killed Tuesday and another was wounded in an attack on a convoy near Balad, 50 miles north of Baghdad. The dean of the University of Mosul law school was murdered in another attack against the country's intellectual elite. Gunmen also killed two Iraqi women working as translators for British forces in Basra, Iraqi officials said.
The Arabic language satellite television channel Al-Jazeera broadcast a videotape of a terrified Kim kneeling, blindfolded and wearing an orange jumpsuit similar to those issued to prisoners at Guantanamo Bay (search), Cuba.
Kim's shoulders were heaving, his mouth open and moving as if he were gulping air and sobbing. Five hooded and armed men stood behind him, one with a big knife slipped in his belt.
One of the masked men read a statement addressed to the Korean people: "This is what your hands have committed. Your army has not come here for the sake of Iraqis, but for cursed America." South Korea is a U.S. ally in Iraq.
South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun, addressing the nation on television Wednesday, condemned terrorism and rejected the kidnappers' claim that the 3,000 new troops his government is sending would hurt Iraqis.
"The South Korean plan to send troops to Iraq is not to engage in hostilities against Iraqis or other Arab people but to help reconstruction and restoration in Iraq," Roh said.
American troops found Kim's body between Baghdad and Fallujah about 5:20 p.m. Iraq time, South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman Shin Bong-kil said. The body was identified by a photograph sent by e-mail to the South Korean embassy.
Kim, who spoke Arabic, worked for Gana General Trading Co., a South Korean company supplying the U.S. military in Iraq. He was believed kidnapped several weeks ago.
In a video released by his captors Sunday, Kim begged his government to end its involvement in Iraq.
"Korean soldiers, please get out of here," he screamed in English. "I don't want to die. I don't want to die. I know that your life is important, but my life is important."
The grisly killing was reminiscent of the decapitation of American businessman Nicholas Berg, who was beheaded last month on a videotape posted on an Al Qaeda-linked Web site by the same group that claimed responsibility for Kim's death.
In Saudi Arabia, American helicopter technician Paul M. Johnson Jr., 49, was beheaded by Al Qaeda militants who had threatened to kill him if the kingdom did not release its Al Qaeda prisoners. An Al Qaeda group claiming responsibility posted an Internet message that showed photographs of Johnson's severed head.
President Bush condemned the beheading as "barbaric" and said he remained confident that South Korea would go ahead with plans to send the troops to Iraq. South Korea will be the third-largest troop contributor after the United States and Britain.
"The free world cannot be intimidated by the brutal actions of these barbaric people," the president said.